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A top Sandinista comandante says Nicaragua cannot turn into 'another Cuba'

By Dennis VolmanStaff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / November 21, 1984



Managua, Nicaragua

Comandante Carlos Nunez, the Sandinista in charge of negotiating on Nicaragua's political future with opposition leaders, says no one has to worry about Nicaragua turning into ''another Cuba.''

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The shy low-key negotiator says anyone who suggests his country is heading toward a Cuban-style society is ''not thinking objectively'' about Nicaragua's political and economic conditions.

There is no possibility of ''declaring socialism'' because the conditions necessary for such a step do not exist in Nicaragua ''either in terms of the country's judicial forms, nor its economic organization, nor the development of its social structure, nor in view of the war of aggression being launched against it.''

A mixed economy is the only viable alternative for Nicaragua now, says Nunez.

The soft-spoken intellectual - viewed as relatively moderate politically - has had a generally low public profile until recently. But most of the moves associated with recent Sandinista liberalization of the political system come under his aegis. Comandante Nunez was in charge of organizing Nicaragua's Nov. 4 election, and he is the top negotiator in talks with the opposition.

In an interview with the Monitor, Nunez sketched out the kind of political future that the Sandinistas may have in mind for Nicaragua. Although he is a moderate in a directorate that includes some hard-line radicals, his comments given in such interviews generally reflect the consensus of opinion of directorate members.

The picture Nunez paints is of a Sandinista leadership that intends to keep basic control over Nicaraguan society, but one that is willing to make some concessions to the opposition. He suggests the Sandinistas are willing to give guarantees of a mixed economy and political pluralism and even to make significant concessions such as depoliticizing the Sandinista-controlled neighborhood block committees.

But Nunez also made it clear that the Sandinistas' understanding of political pluralism is a system in which fundamental control remains in Sandinista hands, and in which opposition parties must follow the Sandinista leadership in questions of national importance. The Sandinistas can follow this scenario, he suggests, because they feel the Nov. 4 election legitimized their control of government. This control is not to be an issue, he said.

''The National Dialogue (the Sandinista-opposition talks) cannot be a parallel instrument to the National Assembly (the recently elected Nicaraguan parliament) because if it would be, then it would have been useless to have the elections,'' he said. ''It would be ridiculous to hold the elections and then ignore the results.''

Nunez also said parties that did not participate in this month's election - and that includes some of the more important opposition parties - would not be included in the developing political system. But so far some members of the Coordinadora - the main opposition grouping of business organizations, labor unions, and politicians that nominated Arturo Cruz for president but then never participated in the election - have been included in current talks.